Fr. Dwight thinks that ecumenical talks between Anglicans and Roman Catholics are at a dead end:
Unless there is some unexpected turnaround in the Church of England and the Anglican churches of the developed world, GAFCON is the Anglican Communion of the future. If so, what does this development mean for Anglican-Roman Catholic ecumenism?
First, it should be recognized that the old form of Anglican-Roman Catholic dialogue is finished. Started during the fresh optimism of the 1960s, ecumenism between Anglicans and Roman Catholics included convergence on liturgical matters running parallel with regular discussions among theologians on both sides. The problem with this model is that the Anglican theologians were invariably from the more Anglo-Catholic wing of the Anglican Church. They were also almost exclusively drawn from the Church of England and the Episcopal Church. The Africans were scarcely included. Like Cardinal Walter Kasper, most members of the Episcopal and Anglican churches didn’t think the Africans were worth listening to.
As the Anglicans on both sides of the Atlantic proceeded with their progressive agenda, discussions with the Catholic Church became increasingly strained. Despite diplomatic noises from both sides, it is generally agreed that the Anglicans have introduced such “grave obstacles to unity” as to put any real ecumenical hopes on hold. Pope Benedict XVI did not improve matters by erecting the Anglican Ordinariate — a structure within the Catholic Church that provides disenchanted Anglicans a semi-detached home within Catholicism.
But think about what Pope Francis said recently about people who are divorced:
Speaking out on one of the most contentious issues of his papacy, Pope Francis on Wednesday told a gathering at the Vatican that the church should embrace Catholics who have divorced and remarried, and that such couples “are not excommunicated, and they absolutely must not be treated that way!”
“They always belong to the church,” he added, calling on pastors to welcome Catholics who have remarried without an annulment, even though such Catholics are currently barred in most cases from receiving the Eucharist, the central sacrament of the faith.
“The church is called to be always the open house of the Father. … No closed doors! No closed doors!” Francis told the crowd at his weekly public audience, which resumed after a monthlong summer break.
Imagine if Pope Francis had been the Bishop of Rome when Henry VIII sought an annulment. If Pope Francis had been as pastoral with the English monarch as he is with today’s marriage challenged Roman Catholics, would the Reformation have happened?